Pregnancy can be an exciting but nerve-wracking adventure, especially for those experiencing it for the first time. There are a vast number of changes occurring in the body that result in an equally vast number of symptoms. This can make it hard to discern what is normal and what is not. Our experts at Midwest Express Clinic have put together this guide to help expecting mothers and their partners understand what symptoms to anticipate and when to seek medical care.
Week 0 – 13
Incredible changes take place in the body during the first trimester. While some women experience symptoms shortly after conception, the most common initial indication of pregnancy is a missed period. If you suspect you are pregnant, you can take an at-home pregnancy test or consult with a healthcare provider who can conduct a urine or blood analysis to confirm. Once pregnancy is confirmed, it is vital to set up regular prenatal care with a pregnancy specialist to ensure the health of you and your growing baby.
Common symptoms in the first trimester include:
- Tender or swollen breasts
- Nausea or vomiting that occurs at any point throughout the day or night
- An increased need to urinate
- Mood swings
Many of these symptoms are caused by shifting hormone levels. If symptoms such as vomiting or mood swings become severe, reach out to a care provider as they can make suggestions for relief. You should also call your doctor if you experience vaginal bleeding, unusual discharge, intense cramping or have a high fever.
Week 14 – 26
For most women, the second trimester is usually when many of the more difficult symptoms of the first trimester subside. A renewed sense of energy often occurs, and the baby isn’t quite big enough to make you uncomfortable yet. However, the second trimester is not without symptoms.
Common second trimester symptoms include:
- Round ligament pain as your uterus expands
- Increased breast size
- Mild, irregular contractions often occurring in the afternoon and evening or after physical activity, called Braxton Hicks contractions
- Skin changes such as brown patches on the face, a dark line down your abdomen known as the linea nigra and stretch marks
- A stuffy-feeling nose due to swollen mucous membranes
- Sensitive gums and teeth
- Leg cramps
Vaginal bleeding or spotting can occur during pregnancy without major complications, however you should immediately notify your doctor so they can help determine the cause. Changes in eyesight, severe headaches or racing heart that do not go away, severe pain in your calf or sudden weakness in your leg and severe swelling are other symptoms that warrant a call or visit to your care provider.
Week 27 – 40
The third trimester is the last stretch of pregnancy, which means in just three months you’ll be holding your baby in your arms! It helps to keep the end goal in mind as you traverse these last weeks of increasing discomfort.
Common third trimester symptoms include:
- Backaches and pelvic pain from not only a growing midsection, but also an increase in hormones that relax your connective tissue
- Shortness of breath
- Spider and varicose veins
- Frequent urination
- Braxton Hicks contractions
As you approach the delivery date there are several conditions and complications that can arise. While you shouldn’t spend your last weeks worrying about them, it is important to know what to look out for.
Call your doctor if you experience:
- Vaginal bleeding, leaking of fluid or a significant increase in discharge
- Sudden severe swelling in your face, hands or fingers
- A severe headache that doesn’t go away
- Intense pain or cramping in your lower abdomen or back
- A sudden change in vision such as blurred or loss of vision
- Pain during urination or a decreased urine output
Another major warning sign to be aware of is decreased fetal movement. By the third trimester, a baby’s movements are more pronounced and easy to detect. It’s important to pay attention to the frequency of movements throughout the day. On average, 10 noticeable movements in the span of two hours is normal. If you notice you haven’t felt the baby move in a while, eat something or drink cold water or juice. Lie down on your side and count the movements. If you don’t feel your baby move at all within one hour while resting, call your doctor.
Don’t be afraid to contact your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing any other unusual symptoms or something feels off. Doctors, midwives and other pregnancy specialists are there to support and guide you through the process. You will not be “bothering” them by reaching out with questions or concerns, even after hours.
Prevention is key
Being proactive by seeking prenatal care early and keeping up with appointments as your pregnancy progresses is a crucial step in preventing and treating any complications that arise. It’s also essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle while pregnant by eating a balanced diet high in protein, doing light exercises each day like yoga or walking after being cleared by your doctor, as well as keeping up with dental hygiene.
Midwest Express Clinic is here to help
If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant or suspect that you might be, the teams at all of our Midwest Express Clinic locations are ready to help! You can consult with one of our providers before trying to become pregnant to get guidance on healthy changes you can make to prepare. We also offer blood and urine screenings to confirm pregnancy and can conduct 3D/4D ultrasounds and gender reveal ultrasounds. Walk in to any of our Indiana or Chicagoland area locations or check in online today!